Are you familiar with Familypedia, a web site with 166,770 online articles about deceased individuals plus another 276,546 genealogy-related pages?
Familypedia is a wiki, part of the commercial Wikia site. It is a place where YOU can create articles about your ancestors and easily link them to other articles about where and when they lived. The site is primarily text-based with biographical pages about deceased individuals. In some cases, you can find pictures of individuals as well as pedigree charts, maps, and other graphics. In most cases, each deceased person has a separate web page giving details about his or her life and also containing hyperlinks to other web pages that contain information about the person’s relatives. Entire families can be hyperlinked together.
Familypedia can be used alone as a separate service, or it can be linked via hyperlinks to other online services, such as MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, or independent web pages created by individuals. Because the Familypedia web site has a wiki format, you can work collaboratively with others to create a network of articles about your ancestors and about those they lived and worked with. The site has no constraints on where the data resides, so you can provide links to your ancestors on whatever web sites host the information.
Before you start entering your own ancestors on Familypedia, you will want to see if there is already some information about them or their family. To find existing information, you can go to http://www.familypedia.wikia.com and use the search box. However, a more organized search method is to use the Surnames Index, Birth Country Index, Death Country Index, Birth Decade Index, or Death Decade Index, all found on the same home page.
I started by searching on my own surname and found a number of individuals listed. However, they were not tied together as a “family” but appeared to be somewhat random listings. As I tried other surnames from my own family tree, I found several families linked together with a lot of information. All information on Familypedia is contributed by users, so we can expect the quantity and quality of information to vary widely. Some of the information is well sourced while other entries contain no source citations at all.
Since anyone can edit a wiki, I could jump right into collaboration mode even though I don’t know the other contributors personally. I could add to their information about the individuals I have researched, change anything I knew to be incorrect, or create a new web page for other individuals and link them to related people.
In short, Familypedia and other wikis are truly democratic communities. Any user can create a new web page for any individual at any time. Perhaps even better, any user can also edit each existing page. If you have supplemental information about an individual you find already listed, or if you wish to correct an error on a page, you can do so within seconds. If you can type and click, you can edit almost every page in a wiki.
Of course, such anarchy invites spam, graffiti, and other junk to be added by uncaring users. Like most wikis, Familypedia easily handles such junk. Multiple copies are saved for each page on the site. When you visit a page, the latest version is displayed. If you see inappropriate content, you (or anyone else) can click on EDIT and then on SHOW CHANGES to show the various revisions. Finally, click on the last unmolested web page to revert to that version.
It actually takes more time to create graffiti than it does to delete it. Therefore, spammers and other unwelcome “guests” soon lose interest and move on to other pastures. Each and every user becomes an editor, able to delete unwanted content within seconds. Likewise, if anyone deletes good content, a click on EDIT and then on SHOW CHANGES will show all the different revisions, including those previously deleted. With a few more mouseclicks, any deleted pages can be restored in seconds.
The reality is that Familypedia, Wikipedia, and other online wikis receive very little spam or other unwanted junk. The self-policing by users works well as long as there are plenty of users. The more popular the site becomes, the better the self-policing effort works.
Unlike some other wikis, Familypedia allows anyone to add or correct information, even without creating an account. However, there are advantages to creating a free account. For one thing, your free account lets you register a user name for yourself. Becoming known under that user name means that you will be able to gain reputation and recognition in the community when others see your user name as the person who made the changes. Registered users also can do more with the site; they can upload pictures, create personal “watchlists” to keep an eye on favorite articles, be notified of changes by email, and other advanced features.
User names can be whatever you choose, within a few common sense limits (no profanity, no spam, etc.) and can be fully anonymous. Other users will not see your real name, address, telephone number, or other personal information. However, registered users may optionally create a user talk page where others can contact them. Information shown on a talk page can include as much or as little information as each person wishes to share.
Familypedia is a part of the family of wikis available at Wikia.com. Other wikis on the same service are devoted to television shows, movies, food, fashion, environmental sustainability, online games, lifestyle, and many other topics. In fact, if you want to start a new wiki about a topic that is not covered by an existing wiki, you can do so within seconds. Wikia is supported by advertising, so the site is free for all users.
If you have an interest in genealogy wikis, you will want to check out the free Familypedia at http://www.familypedia.wikia.com.
To see a typical web page about a person, look at Barack Obama’s page at http://familypedia.wikia.com/wiki/Barack_Obama_%281961%29.
OK, so perhaps that is not a “typical” page; but, it does illustrate the sort of page that you can create for any or all of your ancestors. It includes pictures, a biography, links to relatives, and even a scanned image of his signature. Clicking on the name of any of Obama’s relatives takes you to a page for that person. Familypedia strongly suggests that you only create pages for deceased individuals or for public figures, such as the President of the United States.
For more information, go to http://www.familypedia.wikia.com and click on GETTING STARTED, GUIDED TOUR, and also on TUTORIAL. You also may want to use the HELP DESK where you can ask other contributors for help regarding the Wiki or genealogy in general.
As stated on the Familypedia home page, “Sign in and join us. Plenty of friendly genealogists here to help if you get stuck!”